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CIRTL and CASTLE collaborate to launch Online Learning Community on Teaching and Learning for NSF Graduate Research Fellows


July 19, 2021

In recognizing the need to support the likely pool of future faculty coming from participants in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP),  The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) is seeking to build a national online GRF Learning Community (GRFLC) focused on teaching and learning. The CIRTL NSF GRFLC is an NSF-funded Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) initiative to broaden CIRTL’s national impact by supporting STEM teaching and learning professional development for GRFs. CIRTL network co-leaders from Drexel University, Adam Fontecchio and Jennifer Stanford, who are the Director and Co-Director of The Center for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning Excellence (CASTLE), spearheaded this initiative. The GRFLC was implemented through Google Sites, where Faun Rockcliffe, Assistant Director of Assessment at CASTLE, oversees continuous development and management of the resource. Initial GRFLC features were developed based on a needs assessment survey administered to NSF GRFP participants. These features include 1) Information about CIRTL, 2) Collection of CIRTL teaching and learning videos, 3) GRF learning modules based on indicated topics of interest, and 4) Faculty Office Hours Forum for asynchronous discussion on teaching, learning, and future faculty topics among GRFs and CIRTL institution faculty. From March 11 to April 9, 2021, CIRTL GRFLC underwent pilot testing with eight (8) CIRTL institutions (Drexel University, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, University at Buffalo, University of Iowa, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Arizona).  

With improvements made from pilot feedback, the GRFLC fully launches on July 19, 2021, with invitations to a national listserv of GRFs at universities across the U.S! The budding community consists of GRFs, university faculty, and postdoctoral fellows. Updated features of the resource include the integration of “Faculty Chat” videos on the Faculty Office Hours page, where faculty and postdoctoral fellows provide some background on their career paths and address select topics of interest to GRFs. Faculty Chat speakers also facilitate discussion around their topic in the Faculty Office Hours Forum. At launch, Faculty Chat continues with “Work-Life Balance with a Family” from the perspective of Brett Condon, former Ph.D. student and now Postdoctoral Fellow at Drexel University. Another new feature is the Community Chatroom, which was created to facilitate asynchronous and synchronous networking among GRFLC members. 

The CIRTL network looks forward to growing CIRTL’s reach in preparing future faculty as it engages the national GRF community in the GRFLC. Special thanks go to contributors to the development of this resource from various CIRTL institutions. A variety of options exist for faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and GRFs across institutions in the U.S. to support the development of the GRFLC. These include promoting the resource to GRFs, making contributions to content development, sharing of resources, actively engaging in the Community Chatroom and Faculty Office Hours features, and providing feedback. 

Access the following link  to explore the CIRTL GRFLC!